One of our guys was having an illicit love affair. He was thirteen; she was fourteen. They were communicating . . . and working out ways to see each other . . . and kissing. In order for these things to happen, there was a breakdown in his relationship with us, his parents. Lying to us, deceiving us. Trying to be great, dedicated, watchful, on-top-of-things parents, we were completely clueless. We were believing him, trusting him; and all the time, he was not in the light with us. He was discovered because of a tip from one of our friends, from someone who shared our values and was part of our believing community. You must have those people; none of us are self-sufficient.
When our kids were younger we had learned and tweaked our own process for spanking our kids. Lying and deceiving were spanking offenses because we spanked for disobedience, disrespect, and dangerous behaviors. This definitely fit all of those categories, but he was through puberty, now a young adult who was developing adult interests at an accelerated rate. Did the spanking process apply here?
Yes . . . and no.
Our process looked something like this (with variations):
Separate the guilty party from everyone else.
Probe with questions in order to get the facts.
Admit guilt (that is, he should confess).
Nstruct; instruct using God’s word and our experienced judgment.
Kapow; deliver the spank.
Intercede together; pray with him and for him.
Nfold; enfold him or communicate to him that we loved him.
Go back and make things right, as much as possible.
We had already been through most of this process with him concerning this same relationship, but obviously we had been unsuccessful. We had done everything but the spank/Kapow, because we felt that he was too old for that. As we reviewed our previous attempt, we remembered one of the attributes of God that He revealed to Moses: God does not leave the guilty unpunished (Ex. 34:6-7). We realized that we needed a new Kapow besides the spanking. Was there another way to deliver the Kapow? Was there something that would hurt enough to get his attention.
Before getting with him, we discussed our options and what we could enforce. We decided to shut down his life for two weeks: phone, computer, events, friends. It was like a forced Sabbath. Everything would stop for two weeks. We wanted it to be long enough to hurt but not unreasonably long. (Like a spanking, one or two licks would get his attention; but twenty licks would cause resentment.) We also agreed that his response might lengthen that amount of time. We prayed and then looked for the right opportunity to meet with him.
When we met with him, we knew the facts and we gave him the chance to come clean. He didn’t. We laid it all out, and he saw that we knew the facts. He confessed. We talked about building, losing, and then rebuilding trust. We mapped out the punishment and the path to restoration. We read scripture together, prayed together, and talked about the future. It took several hours. Everything in our lives and in his life was put on hold until we came to resolution. We spoke in quiet but determined voices. God helped us and him. By the end of two weeks, he had done everything we had asked him to do. Our relationship was restored and he began to rebuild our trust, little by little.
Everything had to stop.
Conversation had to take place with openness.
The Kapow had to hurt, but not damage.
The path to make things right had to be clear.